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NIH launches comprehensive effort to explore cancer genomics

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today launched a comprehensive effort to accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies, especially large-scale genome sequencing. The overall effort, called The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), will begin with a pilot project to determine the feasibility of a full-scale effort to systematically explore the universe of genomic changes involved in all types of human cancer.

"Now is the time to move forward with this pioneering initiative. Thanks to the tools and technologies developed by the Human Genome Project and recent advances in using genetic information to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, it is now possible to envision a systematic effort to map the changes in the human genetic blueprint associated with all known forms of cancer," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "This atlas of genomic changes will provide new insights into the biological basis of cancer, which in turn will lead to new tests to detect cancer in its early, most treatable stages; new therapies to target cancer at its most vulnerable points; and, ultimately, new strategies to prevent cancer."

NCI and NHGRI announced today at a news conference in Washington, D.C., that they have each committed $50 million over three years to the TCGA Pilot Project. The project will develop and test the complex science and technology framework needed to systematically identify and characterize the genetic mutations and other genomic changes associated with cancer. The pilot will involve a few types of cancer that will be chosen for their value in helping to determine the feasibility of a possible larger-scale project. The process for determining the types of cancers to be studied is currently underway.

Cancer is now understood to include more than 200 different dise
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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